Please welcome author Jennifer Kincheloe!
Jennifer is a research scientist and writer of historical mysteries. Her novels take place in 1900s Los Angeles among the police matrons of the LAPD and combine, mystery, history, humor, and romance. THE WOMAN IN THE CAMPHOR TRUNK was released in November, 2017 and was nominated for a prestigious Lefty Award. Her debut novel, THE SECRET LIFE OF ANNA BLANC was a finalist in the Lefty Awards for Best Historical Mystery, The Colorado Author’s League Award for Best Genre Fiction, the Macavity Sue Feder Award for Historical Mystery, and is the WINNER of the Mystery & Mayhem Award for Historical Mystery and the Colorado Gold for Best Mystery.
Jennifer grew up in Southern California, but has traveled to such places as Greenland, Nicaragua, Ethiopia, and Papua New Guinea. She’s been a block layer, a nurse’s aid, a fragrance model, and on the research faculty at UCLA, where she spent 11 years conducting studies to inform health policy. Jennifer currently lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband and two teenagers, two dogs, and a cat. There she conducts research on the jails.
Rich Girl, Poor Girl in 1908
The Anna Blanc mystery series follows the adventures of a disowned young heiress, making her way in the world (barely) as an assistant police matron in 1900s Los Angeles. In the latest installment, THE BODY IN GRIFFITH PARK, we find Anna living alone in a run-down apartment surviving off kippers, Cracker Jacks, and the dream of being a real detective.
Was life that different for a wealthy socialite versus a police matron with both feet solidly in the middleclass?
What exactly has Anna lost when she tumbled from her mansion on Bunker Hill?
- Her allowance. Police matrons in Los Angeles earned 75 dollars per month. To lend a sense of proportion, Anna’s father might have paid as much as 10,000 dollars for just one of Anna’s couture gowns, and she was unlikely to have worn it twice. But there will be no new gowns for Assistant Matron Blanc. Police matrons sewed their own uniforms.
- Good credit. Rich Anna had tabs all over town, paid by her father. Her credit starts out good, but she immediately lands herself in debt when she has her uniform turned into bloomers, not realizing what her fancy seamstress charges. Which brings me to another point.
- It isn’t just how much money you have, it’s your know how. Poor and middleclass women possessed survival skills that a woman from Anna’s set simply didn’t have. They could, for instance, boil water. They could style their own hair and launder their clothes. They knew what a budget was. Not Anna. Rich women had armies of cooks, maids, butlers, gardeners, chauffeurs, grooms, livery men, secretaries, handymen, and scullery maids, who kept them from developing the basic skills of daily life. In a sense, Anna was cast out into the world as helpless as a new-born babe.
- These days, it’s bad taste to flaunt your wealth. In 1900s Los Angeles, it was de rigueur. Wealthy ladies dripped with jewels made by Tiffany, Lalique, and Cartier. Rich Anna Blanc had ice. Poor Anna Blanc is stripped of her jewels and conducts her life feeling positively naked. Speaking of naked…
- Separate bedrooms. Rich couples had separate bedrooms, even if they were happy. Should Anna marry her sweetheart, Joe Singer, they would get to share.
- Yak hair pieces. Rich women wore hair pieces made of yak hair. A middleclass woman might save up her own hair, collected from a hairbrush, and make a rat that she could pin to the top of her head and wrap her real hair around it for volume.
- Her chaperone. Upper-class, unmarried young ladies often had paid chaperones. Working-class women were usually unchaperoned and went out to their jobs alone. They might be chaperoned by a relative when courting, but overall, they enjoyed more freedom.
- Pressure to marry the right man. Wealthy American girls were pressured to marry well. Marrying penniless European men with titles was also a thing. Poor Anna achieves a measure of freedom and can choose whom and whether to marry. In the meantime, she’d be perfectly content to make love to Joe Singer, if they could just find a place to be alone. Which brings me to my last point.
- Nice digs. Wealthy women lived in opulent mansions on Bunker Hill or in Pasadena. A single lady on her own in LA would live in a humble apartment or boarding house for “working girls.” The landlord would set curfew, prevent men from visiting, and throw a girl out if her reputation wasn’t golden. Anna’s reputation isn’t golden and so she has to pay extra.
There’s no question that Anna Blanc’s life changes dramatically when she enters the working class, but she doesn’t only lose. She gains self-determination. Her love life improves immensely. She has interesting, meaningful employment in her chosen field. On the balance, I think Anna Blanc came out ahead. Don’t you?
. “Gowns by Worth; Gilded Age’s Opulence,” New York Times, Oct. 20, 1982.
Be sure to check out Jennifer’s new release in the Anna Blanc Mystery Series:
The Body in Griffith Park
An Anna Blanc Mystery #3
“A wild romp through turn-of-the-century Los Angeles…Anna Blanc is a blast!” — Amy Stewart, New York Times-bestselling author of Girl Waits with Gun
Los Angeles, 1908. Anna Blanc is a former so-so socialite, a flailing police matron, and a killer detective.
Ex-heiress, Anna Blanc, is precariously employed by the Los Angeles Police Department, reforming delinquent children and minding lady jailbirds. What she really wants is to hunt criminals and be alone with Detective Joe Singer–both no-nos that could get her fired. On a lover’s tryst in Griffith Park, Anna and Joe discover the body of a young gambler. Anna can’t resist. She’s on the case. With a murder to solve and her police matron duties piling up, a young girl shows up at Central Station claiming to have been raped by a man from Mars. The men at the station scoff, but Anna is willing to investigate. Meanwhile, Anna begins getting strange floral arrangements from an unknown admirer. Following the petals leads her to another crime–one close to home. Suddenly pitted against Joe, Anna must examine her loyalties and solve the crimes, even if it means losing the man she loves.
THE BODY IN GRIFFITH PARK
Seventh Street Books — July 23, 2019
Paperback: $15.95, Kindle $9.99
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Praise for the Anna Blanc Mystery Series
A Winner for:
- Mystery & Mayhem Award for Historical Mystery
- Colorado Gold Award for Mystery
A Finalist for:
- Lefty Awards for Historical Mystery
- Colorado Author’s League Award for Genre Fiction
- Macavity Sue Feder Historical Mystery Award
- Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award for Mystery
“The feisty heroine’s sleuthing abilities and tricky love life make it hard to put this fast-paced historical mystery/romance down and leaves you wanting more.” — Kirkus Reviews
“[A] winning sequel…. Kincheloe skillfully juxtaposes a witty, playful voice with richly evocative details that bring L.A.’s Chinatown—and its long history of ethnic tensions—to life.”